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Further Down The Rabbit Hole
In 1999, the Wachowski Brothers and producer Joel Silver unveiled The Matrix, a visionary fusion of staggeringly powerful action and densely-layered storytelling. Inspired by stylistic Japanese animé films like, the questions posed at the intersection of philosophy, mythology, religion and mathematics, the hyper-kinetic illustrations of comic book artist Geof Darrow and the science fiction of authors such as William Gibson, Philip K. Dick and Lewis Carroll, the brothers conceived an epic story that explores themes of technological alienation, free will, the cost of ignorance and the price of knowledge.

Ultimately, the filmmakers not only electrified audiences with audacious visual innovations that have since been imitated in countless commercials, music videos and movies, they created a provocative action film that ponders the essence of reality and identity, illuminating the choices we must make and the strengths and weaknesses that compel us to make them.

The Wachowskis had always envisioned the sprawling saga they unleashed in The Matrix as a trilogy, and the success of that film allowed the writer-directors to tunnel deeper into a mythology that they had only begun to reveal. They approached the production of the trilogy's second and third installments, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, as a single film that would be presented in two parts.

The result is a revolution in and of itself. The visual benchmarks set by the trilogy, such as the groundbreaking technique invented to capture the animé-inspired conceptual state of "Bullet Time” in The Matrix or the pioneering of the Universal Capture process to produce photo-realistic virtual humans for Reloaded and Revolutions, continue to redefine what is cinematically possible. A film trilogy that tells a story of the horrors that may happen if we push technology too far has pushed technology exponentially further in the telling of it.

The Matrix films also bulldoze boundaries in the physical construction of their furious action sequences. Simultaneously brutal and elegant, they combine elements of classic Kung Fu films with Western gun-slinging action, Eastern martial arts and wire work. In the Hong Kong cinematic tradition of directors such as John Woo and Yuen Wo Ping, the lead actors perform their own fight sequences. This method allows for greater storytelling through action – the fights propel the narrative, rather than serving as an entertaining detour from it. In this way, every minute of the film can offer something substantial and meaningful to the audience.

Perhaps part of what makes the Matrix films so intriguing is that their density inspires limitless interpretations – while most films endeavor to provide the audience with answers, The Matrix is one giant open-ended question. Casual references serve as conduits to entire forests of thought; interwoven themes of mythology, philosophy, emerging technology, evolutionary psychology, literature such as Alice in Wonderland, and theological references (Christianity and Gnosticism exist comfortably alongside Zen Buddhist and Taoist thought) all free the mind to consider a multiplicity of truths. The films' strength lies not in what they are capable of telling us, but rather in our own capacity to take the ideas they present and run with them.

The Wachowskis' cinematic synthesis of philosophy and technology has inspired several books (including The Philosophy of The Matrix, edited by William Irwin; Exploring the Matrix: Visions of the Cyber Present, edited by Karen Haber; and Taking the Red Pill: Science, Philosophy & Religion in The Matrix, edited by Glenn Yeffeth) and numerous college courses ranging in theme from philosophy to science fiction, computer-mediated communication, religion and contemporary cult

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